It was the scent of brewing tea that slowly woke up Hange.
This time, the sun was shining brightly in the morning sly, its beams filtering through the fabric of their tent and bathing the small space in a soft green hue. Outside could be heard tranquil conversations, alongside the clatter of breakfast plates and the oh-so-magical sound of the sea. Hange stretched blissfully, enjoying the feeling of being fully rested after their two-parts sleep, and went on a quest to find their glasses. Their lips still tasted like salt and the memories of last night, gradually swimming to the top of the mind, brought a lazy grin to their face.
"Ah, here there are!"
Adjusting their glasses on the bridge of their nose, they blinked several times as the world came into sharp focus and hummed happily. Now, it was time to see what was smelling so good outside – anyway, they were currently alone in their tent, and if there was something that Hange certainly liked, it was having someone to pester. Especially a certain grumpy Captain.
Armin jumped at their enthusiastic and loud greeting, spilling a little bit of tea on his lap.
"Ah, sorry, didn't mean to startle you! Plus, it would be a shame to waste this tea, it smells so good! Is there any left?"
"There is more in the kettle, Commander…"
They grabbed a cup and filled it under the somewhat wary looks of Armin and Connie – Sacha, on her part, was way more invested in the breakfast preparation, to the point where she was apparently oblivious to her Commander's appearance. Well, since they had managed to catch some fishes the day before, Hange could understand her fascination. They were very eager to see more of the outside fauna, be it by observation, dissection, or straight-up tasting – their grumbling stomach seemed to be in favor of that third option.
"Hey, Sacha, quit it!"
Connie rushed to straddle the taller girl as she tried to fit a large piece of bread into her mouth before he could snatch it away from her.
"At least with yesterday catches we don't need to ration food as much…" Armin pointed out, shaking his head.
The two cadets were now wrestling on the floor, half-playful – Connie – and half-serious – Sacha. She was practically snarling at the boy.
"She sure is an energetic young woman," Hange said, a mix of amusement and admiration in their voice.
"You're one to talk, four-eyes. I could hear you shrieking from across the camp."
Hange's grin widened, threatening to split their face in half as the low, monotonous voice sent a shiver down their spine.
"Levi! I was wondering where the rest of you had wandered," they added, eyeing the three cadets behind their captain, holding various dripping items of clothing. "Laundry, really? Before breakfast?"
"Ah, exactly what I said!" Sacha chimed in, having finally broken free from her friend's grasp.
"Breakfast wasn't ready yet," Levi said curtly. "And you're the walking example as to why it was mandatory."
As they eyed their nightshirt, the grey fabric stained with palish halos from the sea salt, Levi brushed past them, aiming to hang up the clothes on a nearby tree – the only issue with that plan being that Hange wasn't letting him off the hook that easily. They grabbed his arm, pulling him closer before he got the time to react.
"I'm not the one who had the brilliant idea to have a midnight bath," they teased, not bothering in the slightest to lower their voice.
His pale skin flushed a nice shade of pink, making Hange's eyes widen in delight behind their glasses. Levi tch-ed, twisting his arm out of their grasp, and motioned to resume putting the freshly-washed clothes away. However, something must have crossed his mind, as he stopped and, turning halfway, dropped the bomb:
"At least I'm not the one who got excited knowing they were watched."
Hange spat out their tea.
As they choked and coughed, they caught sight of Levi's smirk. Noticing their stare, he bit down slightly on his lower lip, and the thought that crossed Hange's mind right at that moment only made their already tomato-red cheeks burn hotter. The snickers behind their back certainly played a part too.
"Are you okay, Commander?"
Armin. The solicitude in his tone would have made them smile fondly if they weren't currently trying to catch her breath while doing their best to ignore the warm tingling somewhere in their lower stomach.
"I'm- ok- okay… Ah, damn it!"
They coughed one last time and wiped their chin. Their now fogged up glasses made the world a little bit blurrier than it even had the right to be. As they dove into their mug, drinking what was left of their tea and trying to regain their composure in the process, their gaze wandered to where Levi had gone. He was currently straining to reach a higher branch, and the gesture made the muscles of his legs – and his ass – even more defined under his white uniform pants. Hange groaned slightly. This clearly didn't help. All they could think about what how they would-
A loud "what?!" jolted their mind out of the gutter. Their ears perked up.
"But… they and…"
"Are you sure?"
"Come on, horse face, even you could come up with a better joke than that!"
The words tumbled out and collided as Mikasa, Eren and Armin urged to express their disbelief.
"Yes, we are certain!" claimed Sacha.
"Fuck you, Eren."
"Absolutely! It really was the Captain… and Hange, of all people?"
Connie's last sentence came out as more a question than an affirmation.
"Hey," the interested party pipped in, "how am I supposed to take that?"
The boy had the decency to look sheepish, as Jean winced and Armin looked like he wanted to disappear into a hole.
"It's just that… you know… you…"
"You two are just so different!" Sacha completed, flying to the rescue.
Hange only laughed.
"Relax, I'm not offended! I know how it looks from the outside."
"And from the inside?" Connie whispered to Sacha, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively – yet, he wasn't discreet enough.
"That's none of your business, you nosy brats."
The girl shrieked and both scurried away from a less than amused Levi. He glared at them, narrow grey eyes as cold as ever and arms folded against his chest, and suddenly the cadets were a lot less inclined to discuss his choice of partner. Hange bit the inside of their cheek to keep from giggling.
Sacha trailed off, looking like she knew very much that she'd better shut up but simply couldn't. Apparently, Eren wasn't the only suicidal blockhead of the group.
"Are you two together?"
There were a few seconds of silence, then a "yes" and a "no" commingled. Startled, Hange looked at Levi, who avoided their gaze. Red was slowly creeping up his neck. God, what they would give to see him embarrassed more often… It was worth the ride, for sure. But for now, there was a more pressing matter.
Hange had been the one to say "no". As a precaution. Because they never talked about their relationship, that fragile and beautiful think they had. It was easier. Less scary. Love was a luxury in the Scouts, because you never knew when it would get ripped away from you, when you would be left alone to mend the pieces of your broken heart. Because they were Hange Zoë and Levi, humanity's smartest and strongest, because they didn't have the time for romance. Because he was their first kiss and they weren't quite ready to admit that either.
"Are we? Together, I mean?" they asked, ignoring the looks of the cadets, ranging from slightly anxious and confused to bewildered.
Levi shrugged then mumbled something, his hand coming up to rub his neck absentmindedly.
"I didn't quite catch that…" they mused.
He shot them a death glare – the effect somewhat compromised by the blush that had now reached his face.
"Are you as deaf as you're blind, shitty-glasses? I said, I love you."
Hange beamed and, before their brain could form a decent enough thought, their body acted on its own. The pair stumbled as they threw their arms around Levi and he struggled to keep their lanky ass upward.
"I'm very tempted to let you fall now," he hissed between clenched teeth.
Hange's bottom collided abruptly with the dusty ground and they stayed there, eyes wide, baffled. Their hand rose slowly, readjusting their glasses on their nose out of habit, then they burst into laughter. Levi stared them down, looking fully like he was rethinking all of his life choices until now.
"Come on," they managed to get out between their giggles, "help me up, you jerk."
He offered a reluctant hand and pulled them to their feet in one swift motion. What he hadn't expected, though, was that Hange used their momentum to press their lips against his. He tried vaguely to resist, before accepting his fate and returning the kiss.
The cadets laughed and cheered loudly.
"I love you too, Levi."
They heard him let out a shaky breath.
"I'm glad, four-eyes," he murmured. "Because you're the best thing that happened to me in a long time."
And because Levi knew there was only one way to keep them quiet for good, he kissed them again.